Some occupations lend themselves to online staffing, either because they can be performed remotely, are project-based or perhaps because the work itself is relatively “low risk” from a client perspective.

Others have been tougher nuts to crack. Accounting and finance has been surprisingly resistant to the broader trend of work moving online.

Enter Paro, a Chicago-based company focused on creating a new employment model for accounting and finance professionals. Founder and CEO Michael Burdick saw firsthand what he was billed out as an accounting consultant. “I was a little depressed, but also a little in awe. A lot of these firms are getting 80% to 90% gross margin,” he says. Businesses consider engaging these big firms as a form of insurance, he explains. “We want to re-envision that value chain using technology, and want to show people they can leave their full-time job, make more money, and harness the joys and benefits of the gig economy: flexibility, dictating their own schedule, independence, autonomy, all that stuff.”

Paro operates like a hybrid online staffing firm, mixing technology with human curation and service. What makes it unique is not that it does online staffing, but that it is tackling an industry that has been inherently resistant to new models, largely because accounting and finance is seen as such high-value work, and because accountants themselves are generally more risk-averse.

Clients use the service by first posting a job. While Paro has a marketplace of vetted accounting and finance professionals (the firm claims its acceptance rate is 2%), it uses a direct sales team that “holds clients’ hands” through the process.

On the candidate side, the firm differentiates itself by providing income predictability and higher wages, a unique offering in the world of freelance work. “Freelancers on other marketplaces … can spend 40% to 60% of their time hunting for deals, soliciting work. Not to stereotype, but I think accountants are probably not great salespeople. At the same time, they are afraid of going from a full-time income to something that’s very nebulous and unknown, and that lack of income predictability is the number one pain point. We’re trying to solve that pain by giving them line of sight into their income, their earning potential, and bringing clients right to their doorstep. No other transactional marketplace does that.”

While on many online platforms, freelancers bid on projects (often driving down wages), Paro sets the rate of workers in advance, and clients are typically presented just a handful of individuals for a given project.

Founded in 2015, Paro has already completed thousands of projects and recently raised $5 million in a series-A funding round led by Revolution Ventures.

The Buzz

Paro is empowering finance and accounting professionals with a new way to work, and might just succeed in bringing a centuries- old industry online in the process.